Posts Tagged ‘Property Management’

Blurred Lines: Multitasking in Multifamily Lowers Productivity

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

by Tim Blackwell


Not too long ago, multifamily industry training and Fair Housing consultant Anne Sadovsky found herself stopping a meeting because a property site manager kept her head down, fidgeting with her smart phone. The woman, about 40 years old, was seemingly oblivious to the discussion and full throttle into her device when Sadovsky put on the brakes.

“I finally said, ‘Are you doing something more important that what we’re doing right now?’ ” Sadovsky said. “She looked up at me and said, ‘Oh, no, I’m just looking for something to order.’”

When Sadovsky came up through the ranks of the apartment industry 40-plus years ago, the only orders she had during the workday were from her bosses. Failure to comply, she said, meant marching to the tune of a different order, the one that sent you packing.

“Heads would roll,” she said.

Today’s work environment is a little less rigid and much more accommodating to personal devices that are often blamed for distracting employees. Before personal technology, being disengaged at a meeting usually meant leaning back in your chair and twirling your pen or scribbling on your Daytimer. Today, just the presence of smart phones, iPads, and even laptops (is he really taking notes or posting to Facebook?) distract employees everywhere in the workplace.

It was a different time, even back in the 70s and 80s, Sadovsky concedes, but perhaps the work ethic and management of the day is a good history lesson that can be applied today. Employees are distracted and they need help to step back in line, she says.

Improve Property Management Staff Focus with Face-to-Face Accountability

In January, a San Francisco-based online meeting provider reported in a survey that most U.S. information workers multitask during meetings, which research shows lowers productivity, increases errors and causes stress among workers. Of 2,000 workers polled by Fuzebox, 92 percent said they have engaged in other activities while sitting around the conference table – 41 percent said they do it all the time or often. Tops among the multitasking offenses? Checking email.

Employees multitasking at meetings or just shunning work responsibilities to check social media create challenges for managers. The root of the problem, Fuzebox says, is a lack of face-to-face communication to hold employees accountable.

That resonates with Sadovsky.

“I think we went through a period where we didn’t have to oversee people so much because people were responsible,” she said. “They did what they were told to do and the way they were told to do it, and we were successful because of it. Today, you have to oversee them. You have to watch what they are doing. You have to stay on top of it, because they are so not-focused on work.”

Distracted Leasing Staff Affect the Bottom Line

Some may say that Generation Y employees are likely to be the most distracted because of their attachment to technology and dependencies on communication through electronic devices. However, according to one survey,middle-aged women are some of the most distracted, and not because they are spending time on Facebook or surfing the net. Females tend to get sidetracked at work because of personal and financial issues as well as a lack of resources.

In the multifamily housing industry, a distracted leasing agent or someone at the site level can cost an apartment property money. The 2013 Workplace Productivity Report shows that 25 percent of people studied were completely unproductive seven or more hours a week and that 22 percent of people were completely unproductive for five to six hours a week. Translated, that’s a day’s wage paid by an employer out the window.

Bringing a distracted worker back in line can be difficult for an already overloaded manager who has more front office responsibilities than other generations of site leaders, Sadovsky says. Increased supervision just adds to the daily laundry list, but it’s a necessary tool that managers today should pack.

“It’s truly hard to find people that you don’t have to (supervise), if, and I hate to say it, you want the job done right,” she said. “There has to be accountability. And there has to be oversight because this generation of worker gets sidetracked in their own stuff.”

Training and Supervision is Key to Reducing Distraction

Camden Property Trust’s Margaret Plummer doesn’t think that younger employees are more distracted than any other generation. She says that empowering technologically savvy Gen Y workers to work whatever way best fits, knowing there may be a tradeoff with some personal activity, can benefit the company in the long run.

“As kids, we were distracted at that age,” says the 46-year-old Plummer, who is Camden’s vice president of employee development. “Part of that is managing it. This group of kids has a different way of going about how to accomplish their tasks. Let them complete tasks the way they are comfortable doing it.”

But both Plummer and Sadovsky agree that a focused worker is a more productive, and that employees should be held accountable for their work and actions. Proper training is essential, especially in a day and time when workers truly have to multitask, whether in a meeting or not, because of the hectic pace of business.

Sadovsky suggests that managers commit to tools like online training programs to help shape employees. Most of all, get face-to-face with some good ol’ fashioned supervision.

“They are going to have to go back to truly supervising and overseeing the other people in the office,” Sadovsky said. “They need to know what their people are doing and they need to supervise it. Set some goals for them and get them out there. I think it’s just kind of gotten relaxed, and everyone kind of comes to work and does their thing.”

Understanding Tenant Psychology

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

tenant psychologyIf you’re having trouble connecting with your residents, it might be communication error. According to nationally recognized body language expert Jan Hargrave, and many other professionals who study personality and motivational factors, only 7% of all communication is verbal.  It really isn’t the words you say that creates a lasting impression, it is how you say them, your posture and your tone.

Millions of dollars are spent each year on marketing research and efforts to discover what motivates buyers. Residential property research shows that renters want convenience, access to public transportation, open spaces and a safe place that feels like home. One thing that all of those needs have in common is an emotional connection. Understanding how a resident feels about your property (and the world in general) will help you build a stronger relationship with them.

Studying body language reveals some universal clues about individual personalities. While this isn’t an exact science, posture, facial expressions, subtle changes in tone or inflection and gait provide valuable insight to better understand your renters.

Hargrave says that a majority of all communication is non-verbal. Here are a few examples of how you can adjust your body language and interpret what your tenant is trying to tell you when words aren’t enough.

Open and Accepting

A person that stands straight, smiles, makes good eye contact and angles his or her body slightly toward you is generally open to communication and comfortable with the environment. She is more prone to reach out for a handshake. Most people identify this person as friendly and outgoing.  This type of tenant normally says what she means and expects you to do the same.

Shy and Awkward

A shy individual often lacks confidence. He rarely holds direct eye contact, avoids touching – sometimes is uncomfortable shaking hands – and creates barriers by folding arms across the chest, turning slightly away from you or grasping a book or other item in front of him.  You can put this person at ease by encouraging him to tell you what he needs to feel comfortable. Although community gatherings and parties may sound appealing, he will often be more motivated to look for apartments away from the crowd.

Aggressive or Angry

An aggressive personality type is often easy to spot. Avoids eye contact, angles the upper body away from you, generally has a classic “smirk” on the face, and walks with a swagger or extremely heavy foot step. These same clues also indicate an arrogant personality type. Your best strategy for communication with these personalities is to remain calm, let them feel like they are leading the conversation and avoid conflict by restating their needs to confirm you understand before adding new information.

Experts say that 38% of communication is expressed via tone or inflection. Listening for changes in the voice helps differentiate an aggressive personality from arrogant personality.

Personality Profiles Help Build Rapport

Regardless of the personality type involved, most people display common body language in response to stimuli. A slight, sudden lift of the eye-brow indicates heightened interest, biting one’s lip shows hesitation or nervousness, and standing with one foot slightly in front of the other reveals the person is assuming dominance in the situation.

Understanding a tenant’s personality helps build rapport because it improves communication, if you use the right techniques. Watch for subtle clues and respond with appropriate responses. For example, if your shy, awkward resident doesn’t want to renew the lease, it might be where her apartment is located in the complex. Before she walks out the door, discuss other apartments. If you can get her to open up, she might tell you that she really would like to be closer to the action, even if she doesn’t engage very often.

Tying it Together

Offering extraordinary amenities, onsite retail options and community-sponsored events makes your property appealing for residents. Properly maintaining the facilities, upgrading appliances and color schemes and perfectly manicured green spaces add value to your property. Developing a clearer understanding of diverse personalities as part of  relationship building strategies is one more tool that property managers can leverage to generate brand loyalty.

appfolio Appfolio | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

AppFolio, Inc. develops Property Management Software that helps businesses improve their workflow so they save time and make more money.  Appfolio submits articles & blogs including topics of Resident Retention, Improved Owner Communication, Time Management, and more.

Apartment Owners Sue Over Tenant Protections

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog


A lawsuit challenging numerous amendments to New York’s rent stabilization regulations was filed by major real estate organizations representing thousands of residential property owners.

The lawsuit seeks to overturn the amendments, challenging the authority of the new Tenant Protection Unit, created by Governor Cuomo. The apartment owners contend that the status of TPU is in question, since the state’s legislature has rejected the proposed funding of the watchdog agency on two occasions since it was enacted in 2011.

The suit claims there is no legal authority for establishing the TPU, which, despite the lack of any complaint by a tenant, audits individual apartment improvements that owners undertake to improve their properties.

The rental owners also contend that the Governor had no authority to create the TPU in the first place – and even if such authority existed, the TPU, as it currently functions, violates constitutionally protected due process rights of building owners by demanding that they reduce or refund rents without affording them an opportunity to be heard or appeal the TPU’s decisions.

The second component of the lawsuit challenges many of the 27 amendments to
the regulations made by DHCR on the grounds that those amendments either conflict
with the State rent laws or constitute a violation of the separation of powers. For example:

The newly adopted regulations contradict the strict four-year statute of
limitations created by the State Legislature in 1997 relating to rent overcharge claims by tenants and record-keeping obligations for property owners. In fact, the newly adopted regulations now allow rent challenges to be brought at any time, by any tenant, and encompassing any time period throughout the entirety of an apartment’s rental history;

The amendments authorize tenants to stop paying rent, without the approval of any agency or court, if they do not believe that the property owner has properly documented improvements made to their apartments prior to the tenant taking occupancy;

The law creates obstacles which prohibit property owners from collecting legally authorized rent increases for major capital improvements and vacancy increases;

The regulations re-prioritize violations so that minor, even unintentional acts carry the same punishment as more severe actions.

The suit was filed by the Rent Stabilization Association, the Community Housing
Improvement Program, and the Small Property Owners of New York, along with individual property owners. The organizations represent owners and managing agents of thousands of large, medium and small residential apartment buildings throughout the five boroughs that include approximately one million rent stabilized apartments.

RSA President Joseph Strasburg adds, “Property owners will not sit by and watch
as their constitutionally protected property rights are trampled upon by government at the behest of tenant advocates.” RSA Chairman Aaron Sirulnick warns that it is small property owners who are the most vulnerable, and that the regulations will hamper efforts to preserve affordable housing.

logo_aaoa American Apartment Owners Association | Company Website 

Rental property management can be very demanding. Our job is to make this day-to-day property management process smoother. AAOA provides a host of services ranging from tenant screening to landlord rental application forms and contractor directory to apartment financing. 

Multifamily Renters Trend | How Today’s Moving Trends Will Affect Multifamily in 2014

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog


According to a press release that the U.S. Census Bureau shared late last month, 11.7% or 35.9 million U.S. residents moved their primary residence in the 2012-2013 year. This translates to a drop of about 12% compared to this same time period from the year prior.

When comparing the data found in the Geographical Mobility report published in 2013, these statistics show 2013’s numbers to be very similar to the 11.6% reported in 2011.

Researchers found that 48% of Americans claimed that the move was housing-related, 30.2% was a result of family, and 19.4% said their move was fueled by employment-related reasons.

What do these moving trends mean for multifamily?

We have three solid years in which moving trends have remained steady or improved nationally, with certain specific metropolitan areas seeing enough growth to maintain the averages for their whole region.

At 13.4%, the Western region of the United States has actually seen the highest percentage of all movers. This is followed by the South, who received 12.8% of our nation’s movers, and the Midwest who turned in an even 11%. The region with the lowest mover rate is the Northeast, who had 7.8% in the last year. According to these trends, industry professionals can expect to see at least these same percentages with a slight improvement being the most likely result of all the new activity planned for 2014.

Multifamily News identified that two-thirds of today’s movers are staying within their same county of origin. In addition, 40% of these movers are staying within 50 miles of their current home.

To the multifamily apartment owners or managers, this means that the bulk of their new renters are likely going to relocate from a relatively short distance. The method in which we’re planning to market our properties needs to hone in on this close-proximity trend.

When it comes to further segmenting this short distance market, it has been found that existing multifamily residents are more likely than current homeowners to move. Data for 2012-2013 reports that 24.9% of renters moved throughout the year, but only 5.1% of homeowners did the same during this time period.

Outside of regional differences, analyzing other areas of data gives property owners and managers a way of refocusing specific communities’ existing marketing plan so that it identifies patterns of the most likely renters in 2014. Job relocations, for example, which account for about 25% of our total movers, have a tendency to pay higher rents initially before settling into any community permanently. This should call for a differentiated marketing approach.

Is your multifamily real estate market already experiencing any of these trends?

JustinAlanis Justin Alanis | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

Justin Alanis is the Co-Founder and CEO of Rentlytics Inc.  Rentlytics is based in San Francisco, CA providing deep analytics for apartment property owners and managers. View and analyze property operational and financial metrics more effectively and identify issues.

Landlord Quick Tip: #255

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Tip #255: Say What You Mean

Most landlords go out of their way to make lease agreements and house rules that are clear and concise, and leave no room for misinterpretation. But, if you using the term “nonrefundable” with the word “deposit”, you may be asking for problems.

That’s because “deposit” implies that the funds are to be returned. When you say “nonrefundable deposit”, your tenant hears, “I’m going to hold on to your money, and then not give it back to you.”

This is particularly confusing for tenants when you mention both fees and deposits in the same conversation, or in the lease agreement.

Rather than using “nonrefundable” anything, consider simply calling the charge a “fee” — application fee, late fee, early termination fee, pet fee. That can save you loads of time and trouble debating the language with disgruntled tenants.

For good measure, check your local laws for any restrictions on fees — or deposits — that can be charged to tenants.

logo_aaoa American Apartment Owners Association | Company Website 

Rental property management can be very demanding. Our job is to make this day-to-day property management process smoother. AAOA provides a host of services ranging from tenant screening to landlord rental application forms and contractor directory to apartment financing. 

Disasterous Consequences of Not Maintaining HVAC Equipment

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Rental Property Owner and CEO Of Cold Craft, Inc. Heating and Air, Stresses The Potential Disastrous Consequences Of Not Maintaining The Buildings’ Equipment

HVAC_1CNN announced on February 24, 2014 that on February 23, 2014 a water heater pipe in Legal Seafood in a New York mall was the cause for a carbon monoxide death and the illness of others. This story was also reported on ABC7 news NY; FOX News, Newsday, NBC New York carbon monoxide poisoning from a water heater, and it makes a great reminder for how important it is to maintain the equipment in all buildings including commercial and residential properties and to have new carbon monoxide detectors. These CO detectors are good for approximately five years, so follow manufacturer’s instructions on replacement.

Susan Nichol is a rental property owner as well as the CEO of Cold Craft, Inc. Every week they observe people taking on the risk of either deferred maintenance or do it yourself heating installations. “To avoid risking the health and well-being of my tenants and my investment I act on the importance of maintaining the most expensive parts of my rental homes, the heating and air conditioning and hot water systems.” The current economy, perhaps the desire to maximize profits or lack of knowledge of equipment maintenance has been responsible for building owners and managers to delay or defer the maintenance on the property’s equipment.

What are these risks? First and foremost carbon monoxide poisoning and death or combustion issues like a fire in the furnace are the highest risk the property owner can take. Check on line there are cases every winter for years of people having issues with the furnaces. Owners and managers need to keep records of the maintenance so should a problem crop up the owner/manager can show a track record of maintaining the equipment. This will show that at the time of the maintenance the equipment was working properly. Regular maintenance also provides the financial rewards of extending the usable life of your equipment.

Typically these HVAC units are out of sight and out of mind, so they do not get the needed attention that is needed to maximize the efficiency and extend the equipment’s usable life. HVAC units are in closets, basements, crawl spaces, on rooftops or simply in the attic, out of the way places that can go unnoticed. This is why it is important to plan the maintenance with a reputable company to make sure that the equipment is running at its best at any age or condition. This equipment needs to be maintained to avoid surprises. “The key to maximizing your money with rental property is to make sure the expensive equipment in the home (HVAC which means, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) are maintained so the equipment will last longer. This means that the replacement can be delayed or planned for.” Susan Nichol, Investment Property Owner.

There is another benefit too and that is planned replacement. When the HVAC equipment is getting towards the end of its usable life the replacement of the equipment can be planned so it has the least impact on the tenant. Planning the replacement can be done when the unit is vacant, when the tenant is aware of upcoming work, and planning allows the replacement to be done in the spring or fall when the weather is mild should anything go wrong and the owner/manager is not out of rental money because of a lack of heat.

Unfortunately, Nichol’s properties are out of state so she is unable to take advantage of her own firm to work on her properties, but they are still maintained. “I have a couple of business rules when it comes to rental property; the most important one is that I need to be able to sleep at night. Looming expenses and possible disaster from deferred HVAC maintenance is not a chance that I am willing to take.” says Nichol. That’s why Cold Craft advocates annual safety inspections on combustion appliances, new Co detectors (especially to replace the units that are over 5 years old – see manufacturer’s replacement suggestions and new batteries annually).

Cold Craft, Inc. opened for business in 1991 serving the San Francisco bay area in heating, air conditioning and refrigeration for both commercial and residential aspects of the trade. The company has a safety focus both for our employees and our customers. Its continuous improvement program includes incentives for education such as being NATE certified; this is why Cold Craft was awarded the Circle of Excellence from NATE, the gold standard in HVAC. The firm also has been Diamond Certified for 12 years. The employees also pride themselves on offering new technology, renewable and energy efficient solutions. Cold Craft’s goal is to continue to grow in the HVACR industry in the bay area and hire additional experienced technicians and installers. Learn more at, or follow Cold Craft, Inc. on Twitter @suzi_coldcraft

Is the Multifamily Industry Facing a Skills Gap Crisis?

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

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skills gap in workplace

Professional Development. I’m willing to bet that at some point in the last few months, you’ve heard those words from your boss or even your local apartment association.

Maybe you’re lucky enough to work for a company that has an entire department at the corporate office devoted to it. Companies spend thousands of dollars a year on professional development programs, providing everything from internal mentoring match-ups, to online and in-person training classes, to leadership retreats, to paying for memberships in their local associations that give employees access to networking and education opportunities within their industry.

So why are so many CEOs and companies reporting that their workforce is experiencing a significant “skills gap” with the demands of their current positions and the skills needed to “compete effectively in the coming years?”

Technology Outpacing Property Management Employee Skill Sets

According to Accenture’s 2013 research, nearly half of the companies surveyed (46%) share this skill gap fear for the future. Accenture postulates that one cause behind this gap is quick changes in both the marketplace and in technology, a situation that property management professionals know all too well. If I told you seven years ago that you needed to look into hiring someone to specialize in Facebook and Pinterest postings, you’d have looked at me like I was crazy; and yet today, there are entire teams working for multifamily housing companies that are devoted to social media management.

Critical Thinking Tops the Skills Gap

It’s not just the hard skills that are missing, like accounting, capital development planning, and NOI management; what’s really coming up on the light end of the scales are the soft skills. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the four skills that top the gap are critical thought, professionalism, written communication, and leadership. This could stem from a combination of generational influences and the myth that these abilities are “talents” that people are born with, not a skill set that can be effectively taught, but whatever the cause, we are running out of people who can captain the ship, so to speak. And, as Accenture points out, there are definite ramifications to the persistence of these skill gaps among an employee base.

Those surveyed are preparing for a potential increase in operational costs due to a drop off of critical skills–66% of them think they will lose business to a competing company, and almost two-thirds of them – 64% – are anticipating negative effects on their income and business growth goals. Most alarmingly though, will be the possible effects on employee performance and productivity. Accenture discovered that 87% of respondents “believe that a skills gap increases stress on existing employees, who need to cope with new challenges while lacking the appropriate tool set of skills.”

Closing the Gap with Employee Training

The Accenture report emphasizes education as one of the main ways to combat this growing problem. The good news is that it seems a majority of companies are willing to embrace this resolution. When it comes to education dollars in 2014, 51% of the companies surveyed are expecting to increase the amount of money they’re investing in their training departments this year.

This is positive news. Since the recession, training has topped the list of budget cuts for many companies. Of these companies, 43% aren’t planning to increase their budget for training, but they do anticipate their amount of investment to keep true to current levels.

Do you believe that the skill levels of your employees and coworkers are sufficient enough to compete effectively in the coming years? What does your training budget look like? Are you experiencing a skill-set gap in your workplace, especially when it comes to social media?

Why Tenants Want to Move, and Why Some Don’t

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Tenants Moving

Leading rental listing service recently asked more than 1,500 renters to describe why they would or would not move in 2014.

The results reveals both shifting trends in renter behavior, and a more lighthearted look at celebrity neighbor preferences.

Affordability, neighborhood and apartment size topped the list of reasons people said they are moving; close to half (46 percent) of former homeowners said they prefer renting; and internet listing services and word of mouth were named as the top two resources for renters during their apartment search.

“This year, both economic and lifestyle factors seem to be on the minds of most renters planning to move,” said Dick Burke, president of “Many helpful online tools, like, are available to help renters make informed and responsible decisions with highly personalized searches, online video walk-throughs, the ability to post and read reviews and apps for iPhone and Android.”

Why are people moving in 2014? And, why aren’t they?

This year, moving decisions were heavily steered by economic factors. Shopping for a less expensive apartment topped the list of reasons renters are planning to move, while affordability topped the list for why renters are staying put. Other popular responses rounding out the top five reasons for whether or not to move included renter preferences, personal tastes, job security and family issues. details the top five reasons survey respondents said they are moving in 2014:

Shopping for a less expensive apartment: 24.6%
Wanting to live in a different neighborhood: 13.6%
Looking for a bigger apartment: 12%
Change in marital status: 11.6%
Looking for a smaller apartment, or to live alone: 10%

When asked to check all that apply, the top five reasons that renters said they aren’t moving in 2014:

Can’t afford to move elsewhere: 47.3%
Like the neighborhood they live in: 40.8%
Like the apartment building they live in: 40.8%
Have job security: 22.5%
Like their neighbors: 12.4%

The 2014 Moving Trends Survey also shows that winning the lottery, a job loss or promotion, relationship changes, and noisy or annoying neighbors are the top reasons that would cause settled tenants to change their minds and move. Only 13% believed they could find something more affordable.

Why are previous homeowners choosing to rent in 2014?

Supporting a rapidly growing trend, close to half of all renters (44.1 percent) previously owned a home, up from 35.1 percent in 2013 and 33.6 percent in 2012. Interestingly, homeownership preferences are split right down the middle in 2014:

54 percent of former homeowners wish they still owned a home
46 percent of former homeowners prefer renting
51.2 percent of renters (who have never owned a home) prefer renting
48.8 percent of renters (who have never owned a home) would like to own a home right now

When asked to check all that apply, the majority of survey respondents see the following as benefits of renting vs. owning:

No unexpected repairs (leaky toilet, clogged sink, etc.): 59.9%
No or low maintenance (don’t need to shovel a driveway, cut grass, etc.): 51.4%
Flexibility to move: 51.3%

There was a sizable increase this year in previous homeowners who indicated that they are choosing to rent mainly because they cannot afford homeownership anymore, while the flexibility renting offers in choosing where to live remained as the number two reason for the third year in a row. provides the top five reasons former homeowners are choosing to rent in 2014, and compares these results to its 2013 survey. The statistics indicate the economy continues to be a driving factor for this group of renters:

Can’t afford homeownership anymore: 21.5% (up from 14.2% in 2013)
Flexibility renting offers in choosing where to live: 15% (down slightly from 15.7% in 2013)
Lost home due to foreclosure or divorce: 13% (up from 11.2% in 2013)
To relocate for employment: 12.4% (down from 13.3% in 2013)
Because renting is more affordable: 10.4% (down significantly from 22.2% in 2013)
Who will renters share their apartments with in 2014?

One area that seems to be a constant is renter living arrangements, which have remained nearly identical for the past three years:

Husband/wife/significant other and/or kids: 47.6%
Living alone: 42.6%
Roommate(s): 9.8%

Celebrity Preferences

Only 12 percent of renters planning to stay put in 2014 would change their minds (and move out) if Miley Cyrus moved in as their neighbor. “Apparently, most renters wouldn’t mind if guests at Miley’s parties have their hands in the air like they don’t care!” said Tammy Kotula, public relations and promotions manager,

More renters would prefer Dakota Fanning (23.4 percent) as their celebrity renter neighbor than Ashley Greene (12.9 percent). Also, Chris Noth (15.1 percent) would be preferred as a celebrity renter neighbor over Nick Jonas (8.2 percent).


4 Easy Water Conservation Tips for Apartment Communities

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

WaterSavingsWith rising water rates, persistent drought conditions, and a growing U.S. population, water conservation is becoming more important every day. Water and sewerage costs have doubled in one of every four municipalities over the last 12 years, which can hurt property managers today and in the future.

Did you know that March 2013 was the 5th driest year nationally since 1895? According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 50 percent of the U.S. continues to fight drought conditions. While conditions are improving, about seven percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing severe to extreme drought as of the end of September 2013. At the same time, other utility costs have increased faster than inflation, creating a need for conservation and improving efficiencies.

The time is right for apartment communities to begin—or improve on their existing—water conservation plans.

While implementing water conservation practices may sound like a very involved process, it doesn’t have to be. Typically, a few modifications with existing fixtures and systems will yield significant savings. A wealth of products and new technologies designed to reduce water consumption are readily available on the market today, helping properties save money while reducing their environmental impact.

Here are four easy water conservation tips to help you get started:

Tip 1: Go Low-Flow to Save Water

A number of plumbing products on the market today use less water but still get the job of rinsing, cleansing, and flushing done. The result is a large water savings which trickles down to a better bottom line.

Here are some smart solutions to save water in an apartment that are fast and easy replacements for your maintenance teams:

  • Replacing a standard 2.5 gallon per minute (GPM) kitchen faucet aerator with a 1.5 GPM saves 40 percent
  • Screwing in a 1.0 GPM aerator onto a 2.2 GPM bathroom faucet saves 54 percent and they are often $1 each or less
  • Installing low-flow showerheads (2.0 GPM or lower) and low-flush toilets (1.28 gallons per flush or lower) save up to 50 percent in water consumption and your residents won’t notice a difference

Tip 2: Adjust Water Volume in Older Toilets

Older toilets that still function can be retrofitted with a dual flush system that reduces the amount of water used for liquids and it is less expensive than replacing the whole toilet. Dual flush systems work best with 1.6- to 3.5 gallon per flush (GFP) toilets but can also be used on 1.28 GPF.

Tip 3: Smart Landscaping Conserves Water

By installing smart controllers, those that detect moisture and track local weather then change watering patterns, will keep landscapes looking good while reducing consumption.

Commercial Evapotranspiration Technology (ET)-based controllers are basically a thermostat for an apartment property’s sprinkler system. ET systems tell the water source when to turn on and off based on current conditions so that overwatering in minimized or even eliminated.

The beauty of installing smart controllers is that they are typically an even swap for the old controller. No additional upgrade of the irrigation system is necessary, and the change-out can be done rather quickly.

Tip 4: Look for WaterSense-Certified Products

Water conservation products certified by WaterSense®, a partnership program administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are readily available and are certified to use less water while not affecting efficacy.

The WaterSense program was launched to provide businesses and consumers with easy ways to save water, as both a label for products and a resource to people. To get a better idea of what the impact of upgrading to WaterSense products could be for your property, check out the WaterSense Water Savings Calculator. After filling in a couple of fields, the calculator will determine how much water, electricity, greenhouse gas emissions, and money can be saved by replacing your current fixtures with WaterSense certified fixtures.

Apartment communities have a great opportunity to conserve water by making a few small tweaks in their buying by seeking out water conservation products. Properties will not only save on their utility bills but will leave more water for future generations. It’s a win-win!

ElizabethWhited Elizabeth Whited | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

Elizabeth is the Operations Coordinator at the Rent Rite Directory. She has written educational articles for multifamily magazines and Real Estate websites to help Property Managers and Owners improve their properties, and reduce crime in their communities.

Multifamily Tech Trend | Property Management Companies Going Paperless in 2014

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog


After reports surfaced that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was having logistical problems processing claims due to the literal piles of paperwork they had accumulated, it became apparent to the rest of the world who hadn’t begun the process of going paperless, that it was time to get serious.

For those in the multifamily industry, the idea of going paperless not only means a chance to reduce overall expenses, but once established, can mean both time saved and a boost in the overall quality of work produced.

From clearing of the office clutter to the fact that going paperless can be a great marketing message, we have some great tips for promoting a paper-free zone in your work-zone.

Why should management companies eliminate paper leases?

When it comes to the business of leasing, going paperless can present a whole new series of benefits. One of the foremost benefits is the ability to execute leases anywhere in the field. Since you’re digitally transmitting everything, only a wireless internet connection and connectable device are needed to present, sign, and distribute those documents to the tenants email and a virtual office file that your staff shares access to.

Agents will spend less time and money traveling and even less energy consuming detailed audits of all the properties in your portfolio when all the documents are electronically accessible.

Industry professionals estimate that up to 40% of the time in leasing offices is spent dealing with paper to make copies, set up files, to send faxes, or simply just searching through existing files to find need documents.

In the long run, it’s time that could be spent being proactive and accomplishing tasks that affect the bottom-line.

How can management companies get e-signatures on their leases when they are paperless?


If you’re just looking to store and share documents online with your users/agents, then Google Docs is a simple, no-cost solution. If you need to take it a step further, Adobe EchoSign is a free e-signature app that allows you to both sign documents digitally and send those documents via email or Google Docs/Drive.

If you are looking to have that same power of Drive/Docs while also adding the ability to capture actual legal signatures on your leasing documents in an all-in-one environment, however, then you’ll need to enlist the services of a company like DocuSign, Lease Runner, SyndicIT Services, or On-Site.

DocuSign has been endorsed by NAR as their official electronic signature provider and boasts that over 115,000 real estate professionals are currently using the program to manage everything from residential and commercial real estate, property management, mortgage, escrow and more

LeaseRunner, like On-Site, is a 100% paperless, time saving application that maintains editable lease documents that comply with all 50 states and a variety of property types. The documents have the ability to capture electronic signatures and store everything digitally.

What do the statistics say about companies who go paperless?

When you look at the sheer impact the paper and ink industry has on the environment, paper consumption in America has generated approximately 85 million tons of paper waste. The pulp and paper industry in the United States is actually the 2nd largest consumer of energy.

According to the statistics gathered by, the average office worker prints around 10,000 pages per year. That’s equivalent to two-and-a-half fully grown trees and 56 gallons of oil per office worker, per year.

By going paperless, the study shows that the average multifamily real estate office can see benefits that extend into not only a reduction in the business costs associated with paper, printers, and ink and toner cartridges, but a reduction in physical filing cabinets and the time it takes associates to search for and retrieve documents.

Going paperless can also mean that a business can begin to employ services in a mobile environment that will promote a professional image and a more customer service oriented way of conducting day-to-day business.

The protocols set in place by a paperless office management system have been shown to have the added benefits of providing the company a secure way of backing up all documents, granting better access to real time updates and document delivery, as well as creating a marketing message that lets the business promote the fact that it is environmentally friendly.

As far as managing statements and paying bills goes, the more you do online the less time and energy you’ll spend managing this part of your business. When it comes to going paperless, it’s a trend that is not going away and one that makes the kind of good “sense” that can be seen in your bottom-line.

JustinAlanis Justin Alanis | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

Justin Alanis is the Co-Founder and CEO of Rentlytics Inc.  Rentlytics is based in San Francisco, CA providing deep analytics for apartment property owners and managers. View and analyze property operational and financial metrics more effectively and identify issues.